Nepal | May 20, 2019

18th Asian Games: One silver, four national records

Out of 187 athletes in 29 sports, Nepal record wins in just 24 matches

Mahesh Acharya

Paragliding team members with officials upon their arrival at TIA, Kathmandu on Sunday.

Kathmandu, September 2

Two weeks ago, Nepal had embarked on an ambitious mission of creating history in the 18th Asian Games, which concluded today in the Indonesian cities of Jakarta and Palembang.

National Sports Council Member Secretary Keshab Kumar Bista had announced of returning home with at least two silver and six bronze medals making it a historic Asiad. But that turned out to be a far cry as the 187-strong squad — which took part in 29 sports disciplines — ended up with one silver medal, four national records and a total of 24 wins.

Before leaving towards Jakarta, chef-de-mission Bista had declared that the teams had the best-ever preparation with 19 sports disciplines sent to abroad for training and he was excited to count the medals in Indonesia. But everything turned out to be a hoax. Nepali athletes lost their matches one after another even without putting up satisfactory performance. Most of the players faced defeats in first rounds and by huge margins.

Nepal started its participation from 1951 Asian Games in Delhi and have taken part in all editions except for two occasions — Philippines (1954) and Indonesia (1962). In the past 15 editions, Nepal have won a total of 23 medals — one silver and 22 bronze medals. Nepal’s performance in the Asian Games is in descending order and it returned with just one medal each from the last two outings — Guangzhou (2010) and Incheon (2014).

This time also, paragliding saved Nepal’s blushes in Indonesia. The men’s team of Bimal Adhikari, Bijay Gautam, Sushil Gurung, Yukesh Gurung and Bishal Thapa finished second in the 10-nation Cross Country event. Nepal missed the historic gold medal to Japan by a small margin but the second-ever silver medal came after the gap of 20 years. Taekwondo player Sabita Rajbhandari had bagged silver in 1998 Bangkok Asiad and that stands as the best performance by a Nepali athlete in individual event of the Asian Games.

Taekwondo, which carries a rich history, was the most trusted sport for Bista this time around also, although it returned empty-handed from the past two editions. He was confident enough of ending medal drought in taekwondo — the most successful sport with one silver and 12 bronze medals in its kitty. But the taekwondo players, who had almost three-month training in South Korea, put in disappointing show.

Nepal had fielded 12 players in Kyorugi (fight) but only four were able to win one bout each — Gyani Chunara, Sagar Guvaju, Bir Bahadur Mahara and Gyanendra Hamal. Out of those four wins, three came against Bhutan. And the women’s poomsae team faced defeat in second round after earning a walkover win from Uzbekistan.

In karate, the other sport that has brought three bronze medals from Asian Games and the winner of the lone medal in the 2014 Incheon Asiad, except for Anu Adhikari others failed to live up to their expectations although three karatekas — two in kumite and one on kata — earned chances to fight for bronze medals in repechage. Adhikari was the lone athlete from Nepal who contested in four bouts and won two, still missing out on podium finish. Rita Karki and Chanchala Danuwar also faced defeats in bronze medal bouts.

The other sport to win medals in the Asian Games, boxing also frustrated fans back home. None of the boxers could register a single victory in Indonesia, let alone add medal to the six bronze win in previous editions.

Four Nepali athletes set new national records — lifters Kamal Bahadur Adhikari, Tara Devi Pun and Sanju Chaudhary along with athlete Som Bahadur Kumal (800m). Badminton produced three victories — men’s team event, men’s doubles pair of Bikash Shrestha and Navin Shrestha and Nangsal Tamang in women’s singles, while Rana sisters Mahika and Mayanka won women’s doubles section round of 32 match against Maldives.

Nepali table tennis player Swechhya Nembang poses with volunteer after carrying the national flag during the closing ceremony of the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia on Sunday.

In archery, Tilak Pun Magar advanced to the last 16 beating Bhutanese archer in Recurve Men’s Individual, while the Recurve Men’s Team of Tilak Pun Magar, Roshan Nagarkoti and Min Prasad Gauchan defeated Pakistan in round of 32. Table tennis produced four wins with Santoo Shrestha and Nabita Shrestha winning in the singles events, while Amar Lal Malla and Swechhya Nembang registering a win in mixed doubles. Nepal also won a match in team event.

Nepali volleyball team registered two victories in Asiad. They earned walkover win from Kyrgyzstan to finish 15th in the overall ranking, while the country’s national game registered 3-1 victory over Mongolia. Kabaddi, basketball, kurash and sepaktakraw earned one win each.


Triathlon

KATHMANDU: Nepal finished second from bottom in the Mixed Team Relay event of triathlon on the final day of the Games in Palembang on Sunday.

The team of Roja KC and Sony Gurung along with Dipesh Chaudhary and Basanta Tharu completed the Super Sprint course — 300m swimming, 6.6km cycling and 2.1km running — in one hour, 52 minutes and 55 seconds, which was 22 minutes and 16 seconds behind gold medal winners Japan, at the JSC Lake. Roja KC was the first to start the course and she took 30 minutes and 22 seconds, while Dipesh Chaudhary completed the course in 25:25:46. Sony Gurung took 31:34 to finish the course and Basanta Tharu did it in 25:13. Nepal beat Mongolia in the 13-team competition. Japan finished first in 1:30:39, while South Korea came second in 1:32:51 and Hong Kong were third in 1:33:44.

On Saturday, Dipesh Chaudhary was disqualified for failing to report at the penalty box for leaving his shoes out of the basket after completing cycling. Nepal Triathlon Association President Nilendra Raj Shrestha lauded the players performance. “The overall performance of our athletes was very good,” said Shrestha. “Roja did overall good, while Dipesh had excellent performance. Sony was not up to the mark as the third starter and the last player of the team, Basanta put in excellent performance,” added Shrestha.


A version of this article appears in print on September 03, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.


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